Monday, March 22, 2021


Old Age and Youth

Homer, Iliad 4.313-325 (Agamemnon and Nestor; tr. Peter Green):
"Old sir, if only, like the heart in your breast, so might
your knees still serve you, your strength remain unimpaired!
But age, ineluctable, weighs on you: how I wish some other        315
warrior had your years, and you were among the youths!"
Nestōr, Gerēnian horseman, to him made answer:
"Son of Atreus, I too most heartily wish I still had
the strength that was mine the day I slew noble Ereuthaliōn!
But no way do the gods grant mortals all things at once—        320
Then I was young, but now old age is my companion.
Even so, I shall go round the mounted fighters, instruct them
with words of counsel: that is an old man's right.
The wielding of spears belongs to a later generation,
men younger than me, men with confidence in their strength."        325

ὦ γέρον εἴθ᾽ ὡς θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλοισιν
ὥς τοι γούναθ᾽ ἕποιτο, βίη δέ τοι ἔμπεδος εἴη·
ἀλλά σε γῆρας τείρει ὁμοίϊον· ὡς ὄφελέν τις        315
ἀνδρῶν ἄλλος ἔχειν, σὺ δὲ κουροτέροισι μετεῖναι.
τὸν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ·
Ἀτρεΐδη μάλα μέν τοι ἐγὼν ἐθέλοιμι καὶ αὐτὸς
ὣς ἔμεν ὡς ὅτε δῖον Ἐρευθαλίωνα κατέκταν.
ἀλλ᾽ οὔ πως ἅμα πάντα θεοὶ δόσαν ἀνθρώποισιν·        320
εἰ τότε κοῦρος ἔα νῦν αὖτέ με γῆρας ὀπάζει.
ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς ἱππεῦσι μετέσσομαι ἠδὲ κελεύσω
βουλῇ καὶ μύθοισι· τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἐστὶ γερόντων.
αἰχμὰς δ᾽ αἰχμάσσουσι νεώτεροι, οἵ περ ἐμεῖο
ὁπλότεροι γεγάασι πεποίθασίν τε βίηφιν.        325

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